Paris (AFP).- Robness is a 38-year-old artist from Los Angeles who declares himself one of the pioneers of crypto art. In January 2020 he came down from the internet and recreated the image of a garbage can, and for this he was censored by one of the most important platforms for the sale of digital works.
Almost two years later, that platform, SuperRare, re-authorized the work: 64 gallon tote.
Robness sold one of the versions of the garbage can in December for the equivalent of $252,000.
For two years the controversy of the “64 gallon garbage can”, one of the many that animates the chaotic world of crypto art, created a whole trend, the thrash art (junk art) digital.
Artists around the world dedicated themselves to making versions of the garbage can, making animated images (gif), jokes… as a sign of solidarity with Robness.
And at the same time, the world of crypto art is no game: it is growing at a dizzying pace, fueled by the huge financial speculation surrounding virtual currencies.
The French luxury house Hermès sued two weeks ago a digital creator in the United States who sold, for thousands of dollars, reproductions of its emblematic Birkin bag on the Internet.
And the heirs of Pablo Picasso had to deny last Thursday that they are going to issue NFTs (digital certificates of authenticity) related to the work of the Spanish painter.
Robness assures that his case is much more bland. “I don’t even remember where the image came from, I think I downloaded it from Google,” says the Californian artist in a videoconference with the AFP.
Robness initially put up for sale three copies of his garbage can for a price that he admits was absurd: 30,900 ethereum (technology that houses digital money, global payments and applications) each. About 78 million dollars today.
“I put a ridiculous price on it, you know? It was a way of saying ‘I value what I do so I’m going to give it the value it deserves,’” she explains.
“I’m not ashamed, I know what the work has achieved, it’s one of those pieces that started a movement in crypto art,” he says proudly.
64 Gallon Toter, and the controversy that surrounded it, is reminiscent of the style of Andy Warhol and his famous Campbell’s Tomato Soup (1962), a reproduction of a Campbell brand can of preserves that became an icon of contemporary art.
SuperRare not only took Robness out of circulation for two years, but also canceled his wallet on the platform.
The wallet it is an account in a certain cryptocurrency. To buy or sell in this volatile market, be it coins or works of art, it is essential to have a wallet.
“They legally threatened me”Robness recalls with a smile. She claims that she never received any explanation from SuperRare.
“The work was basically a copy (…) and the community considered that it was not art,” he explained to the AFP SuperRare in an email.
Two years later “we decided to put it back, because many things have evolved in a very short period of time,” the message added.
Robness left the price stratospheric for three copies of 64 gallon toter. He quickly received an offer for one of them in December. A collector who called him on the phone and who, the artist says, “laughed a lot” because of all the commotion.
Speculation doesn’t keep him awake at night, he says. “I think about it too, of course. I am one of the personalities in this game. But something is clear to me: when I started, everyone said that this was going to end, that it could collapse. And we have been almost a decade now, ”she assures.